THE SECOND COMING by William Butler Yeats
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are these words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.
Nothing new under the sun, and yet Yeats’ way of saying it cuts to the soul. He wrote this on the threshold of the era of National Socialism and deployment of fear (as well as the Troubles in Ireland). Perhaps it’s not particularly relevant these days. I post it with the hope that “a gaze as blank and pitiless as the sun” is not a feature of the current world and national situation, but I have a suspicion that it is.
On CNBC last night discussion turned to hollow men. There’s poetry all around us.